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By Philippe Legrain 10 COMMENTS

With Liam Byrne, Britain’s immigration minister, warning of the risks of "uncontrolled immigration" and singing the praises of the government’s proposal for a new Australian-style immigration points system, I went head-to-head on BBC Radio 4’s PM programme with David Conway of Civitas, who claims that immigrants are quite literally a plague on British society. Listen here

Posted 18 Apr 2007 in Blog, Media
  1. Peggy Avery says:

    I heard you on PM tonight. Didn’t know who you were until I looked you up on the web. Thought you were extremely rude and lost the argument when you started spouting that infantile rubbish at the end of the interview.
    You seem to be the kind of person who always thinks he is right and is never prepared to listen to any other point of view. Hope I never have to listen to you again.

  2. Jean-Thomas Bilodeau-Fortin says:

    Thank you Mr. Legrain for speaking the voice of reason on such an issue. Here in Quebec anti immigrant voices are getting louder and louder and the whole thing is become worrying.
    But the whole point is : regions who receive immigrants prospere, those who do not stagnate or get poorer.

  3. Paul Ingham says:

    I really think Ms Avery has said all I wanted to say. However this is the text of the email i sent earlier to the PM programme:
    “I would like like to register my concern over the bad tempered debate about the immigration issue that took place at the end of Wednesday’s (18-04-07) PM programme. I was particularly concerned with the comments and attitude of author Philippe Legrain. His sub-Dave Spart style tirade directed against his opponent, David Conway of the think-tank CIVITAS, completely failed to answer any of the issues raised.
    I realise that Legrain has a book to sell, but such an incoherent and knee-jerk attitude does nothing to advance the pro-immigration argument. He gave no real response or counter argument to Mr. Conway’s public health concerns or to Liam Byrne MP’s comments on the negative effects of mass immigration on the poorest parts of the country. A view I can concer with from my own experience in East London where the corrosive effects of wave upon wave of immigration has created a community so undermined that it is at the point of dissolution.
    Instead he resorted to personal abuse of his opponent in the studio. In effect saying that anyone who expressed the slightest concern about immigration levels is a racist. It is views like his that drive decent voters into the hands of political extremists.
    I note that Legrain has already had his 15 minutes of fame with a spot last week on the Moral Maze. Is it too much to hope that this is last we will hear from him for some time?
    Paul Ingham
    London E.
    PS: I note that on Legrain’s own website he has edited out his final rant at the end of the broadcast. Is this for legal reasons?”
    Well done mate, you must be the BNP’s blue eyed boy.

  4. Merlin says:

    You started with the stupid remark “did Mr. Conway think that immigrants eat babies”. Derek Conway continued with his point, (he must have thought he was listening to an uneducated teenager). You then burst out that his arguments were ‘ludicrous’ . It was your comments that were ludicrous. You did not answer him point for point in a serious manner.
    You merely squeaked out something about ‘all Polish workers and builders must here must be sick; then something about a serial killer in Ipswich and did Derek Conway think everyone in Ipswich was a serial killer’. Your sarcasm was weak. You then stated how does Government know how many workers will be needed. They don’t…..and that is the trouble they are pretty dumb too! They don’t know how to collate facts and figures.
    You then accused Derek Conway of being a racist. Thank goodness Eddie Mair gave Conway a chance to reply to your silliness.

  5. Rory says:

    Does Merlin realise that Conway’s organization, is a British neocon organization which is bound to take on a racist view? Why does Melin think that Conway is its spokesman on such issues?
    Incredible naivety on his part.
    The interview wouldn’t download on Explorer 7, and downloaded erratically on Firefox. Though you should know.
    Anyway, well done, mate. We can do without the Peggy Avery’s of the world anyway (disenfranchise them, I say!)

  6. Anthony says:

    Immigrants have always been used as scapegoats for Britain’s social and economic problems. Indeed, everything the guy from Civitas says about immigrants today was probably being said by ‘the natives’ about his ancestors when they first arrived in Britain.
    However, the facts are that if we take immigrants out of the equation the poor of this country would still be poor and our national identity would still be extremely ambiguous. In short, it benefits the capitalist, in a political context, to have issues such as immigration replace the basic issue of wealth distribution. What do people have to say about the fact that over 80 percent of the nation’s wealth is owned by less than 10 percent of the population?
    Many on the right strongly object to mass migration — and they support tough and cruel measures they hope will prevent it — but they rarely focus on the issues that cause it. I mean, the Sun and the Daily Mail would have us believe that billions of people (scum to them) are eager to get to Britain to ‘milk the system’. In the real world, however, most people do not wish to uproot themselves from their families, friends and culture. Many of those that do migrate do so for two main reasons: first to improve their economic situation, and second to escape from wars and persecution. Britain bears much responsibility for both.
    What does the guy from Civitas have to say about enforced privatisation on poor countries and the arms trade, that props up many repressive regimes? Not much, I suspect, because focusing on these issues threatens the wealth and power of the ruling class. It’s much easier to use the divide and rule tactic.

  7. Ray says:

    I assume from your views (and the BBC’s promotion of them) that you are a marxist. Why not be honest and admit it?
    Ray (in London).

  8. Claire says:

    I heard the argument on radio 4 on wednesday, and thought that the leader of the BNP party was a complete arrogant idiot. He was not open to any of the questions posed to him, and was extremely rude and defensive. He then started to resort to personal arguments like a school-boy who knows he is in the wrong, yet still continues to argue his points. If I were him I would now be feeling very embarrassed and ashamed about my behaviour, knowing that 1000’s of people listened to my rather pointless dead-end ramblings. On the upside, however, It was rather amusing, although i’m sure this was not what he was hoping to achieve.

  9. JJ says:

    you must listen to yourself on Iconoclasts again – shouting ‘oi!’ to poor old Andrew Green in order to interrupt him, telling him he’s a racist (until forced into a humiliating withdrawal) and your general use of intemperate language and sarcasm – don’t think you’ll be winning any new fans with that performance.

  10. Stephen Page says:

    re: Iconoclasts
    What sort of creature are you to suggest someone (Andrew Greene) is a ‘racist’ for expressing a concern for immigration?
    Reader be warned: such labels are ‘control codes’ to attempt to suppress debate.

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